All work and no play….

….makes for a dull blog?

For what it’s worth, I’ve written several updates since my last post.  Unfortunately they’re tucked away in the recesses of my brain waiting patiently for someone to shine a flashlight into the void, guiding their way out the darkness and onto your computer screen.

Until then, I humbly offer the following review of our summer.

My last post was full of anticipation for the upcoming growing season.  Now we’re enjoying the early fruits of our labor and impending harvest.

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For weeks now, the zucchini have been growing to mammoth proportions (which we’re processing into zucchini relish) and the zucchini we rescue from that fate end up on the grill with a little olive oil, sea salt and cracked pepper.   Mmmm.

We harvested all of our garlic a few weeks ago, pulling them from their beds and hanging them to cure.

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Each “leaf” of the garlic represents a layer of the paper surrounding the cloves.  While the garlic is ready to use after harvesting, it’s important to dry the heads in order to store them for an extended period.

We let them cure for a couple of weeks in the warm, unfinished second floor bathroom of our home.  Once sufficiently dry, we clipped the leaves and roots and have them ready to use for the next few months.

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The beauty of growing our own garlic (aside from, you know, eating it) is that we have all we need to plant and grow next years’ supply.  We’ll set aside the largest and best garlic heads and plant those cloves this fall for next summers’ harvest.  Fresh food is awesome.  FREE, fresh food is awesomer.

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We’ve had a beautiful summer.  Although dry, it’s been downright hot for weeks.  The tomatoes are thriving and just starting to show signs of their maturity.

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The peppers are plumping and the potatoes are nearing their harvest time.  We’ve had one crop of peas already picked, another almost ready and a third crop growing for a fall harvest.  Likewise with the carrots, beans and beets.  Squash and pumpkins are flourishing in our lasagna beds and our second planting of cauliflower, broccoli, kale, collards and kholrabi will be ready in a few weeks.

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Aside from the gardens, our flock of hens grew by six this summer.

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Violet, Pansy, Dahlia, Sunflower, Petunia and Lily have joined the Golden Girls – and at 18 weeks of age, they should start fulfilling their end of the bargain and begin to give us a daily egg each.

We had the pleasure of having my Mom visit for the majority of July.  As much as she was looking forward to a visit, I think we enjoyed it as much or more.

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Well, we certainly enjoyed exploring and discovering new restaurants and shops that Vanessa and I intended to (but never have) tried.  But more than that, we just enjoyed the company.

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Vanessa and I both are working full-time at new jobs.  I’ve been working for a disaster restoration contractor for the past several months.  Although I have to admit, after a long day (or week) of working on other people’s homes and properties, it’s hard to find the motivation to do the same for ourselves.  Vanessa is now at Cavendish Farms processing one of PEI’s most famous commodities: potatoes!  It’s actually working out very well for us.  I work a fairly typical work-week: Monday to Friday with occasional evening or weekend projects.  Vanessa works two day shifts, two night shifts and then has four days off.  Those four days have proven invaluable to us as she’s able to tend to things around the homestead (like curing garlic and raising chicks).

So.  There you have it.  Sort of.  Its hard to wrap up three (four?) months in 600-or-so words, but I think I managed to empty out a few things rattling around in my head.  I’ll do all I can to right-this-ship and resume my regular updates.  It’s looking like an exciting fall around our old island home.  Just do me a favor and let me know you’re still out there.  I get a lot of my motivation and inspiration after hearing from you.

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Thanks – and blessings from our home to yours!

Gardening. It’s cheaper than therapy.

There’s an old proverb that says, “no matter how long the winter, spring is sure to follow.”  This weekend sure felt like it had finally arrived.

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“I can smell it”

We took a short drive through Cavendish, enjoying the sun and fresh air, and spotted this guy on the edge of the ice at Wheatley River.

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We actually saw three of these bald eagles on our drive today but this was the only one we managed to photograph.

With spring only a couple of weeks away, our thoughts have been turning to the gardens and our seed starting schedule.

Depending on who you talk to, our last spring frost is typically expected sometime in the last week of may or first part of June. So with about twelve weeks before the last frost of the year, we need to start some of our seeds in anticipation of planting out when the soil is workable

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First up are our leeks and onions.  We’ll start the seeds this week, giving us about eight to ten weeks head start before planting them into the gardens.  Onions and leeks are fairly cold-tolerant, so we will transplant them two to three weeks before the last spring frost date – sometime in early May.

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Over the next few weeks, we’ll also be starting our broccoli, cauliflower, pepper and tomato seeds.

We experienced a steep learning curve last year when planning and planting our gardens.  Thankfully we’ve had far more successes than failures, but with everything in life, if we can learn from our mistakes, we won’t be subjected to repeat them again.  Careful records of our seeding and transplanting dates last year has taken out some of the guesswork, and we can tweak our schedule to improve our success this year.

I think spring really is my favorite time of year.  To me, it feels like the new year actually starts now – when the snow is melting, the soil warms and the trees and plants are waking up from the winter.

I know, I know – we’re not out of winter’s grip yet, but I keep reminding myself that there’s more winter behind us than ahead.

 

We’ve only just begun

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“I make myself rich by making my wants few.”  [Thoreau]

It’s that time of year when we look back on what 2014 was and what we hope 2015 will hold.

For Vanessa and I, we’re grateful for what last year held for us.  The house renovations have been coming along nicely but slowed since we’ve been working full-time now.  We’re still eating our own vegetables we grew last summer: potatoes, carrots, beans, peas, corn, pickles, onions and squash.  The six chickens have started giving us about four eggs daily – even with winter’s cold embrace taking over.  And we have each other.  What else do we need?

We have our health, home, food and warmth – and with that, all of our needs are met.  Then there’s the other stuff we take for granted that’s really a luxury for most of the global population: we have cars, hobbies, music, internet access and more clothes than we actually wear.  I sometimes think it’s even too much.

One of the things I’ve loved most about our move has been our embrace of the concept of living with less.  At one point it was a conscious decision to do without some of the luxuries we’ve always enjoyed.  Dining-out together was a big one.  So was buying things we wanted but really didn’t need – just because we could.

Now we just want to live a simpler, minimal life.  Not militant minimalism, mind you – I don’t want to “make do” with two plates, two forks, two cups and two choices of clothes to wear.  But we can do with less.  In fact, it’s one of the more rewarding things we’ve done in our move.  We sold or gave away a lot of items we didn’t need or want to move to PEI – and we’ve not needed to replace them as of yet, either.

We’ve found that very little is needed to make a happy life.

So for 2015, if we’re talking resolutions (and I’m not really), then it would be to stay-the-course.  Keep our needs few.  After all, things will never make one happy – it just creates a desire for more things or bigger things.  We will unburden our lives by owning less stuff and doing more of the things we love.

For the past year we’ve been dreaming of our “big picture” together.  What we want our house to be.  How we’d like to farm.  The wood lot we want to purchase and how we’d use that for our needs.  But we realize a dream is just a dream without a plan.  This year, we’ll be expanding our gardens and offering limited weekly eggs and vegetable boxes for sale.  The woodlot we hope to purchase will be both an investment and a source of income.

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As for you, we hope you have a wonderful new year filled with happiness.  Dream big dreams, but don’t stop there, make a plan to see those dreams fulfilled.

 

Our New Normal

For the past year, Vanessa and I have spent our days working on the house and gardens.  We managed to purchase our home last November and since then we’ve worked side-by-side renovating and restoring our home and tending our vegetables.

Now for the last couple of weeks, we’ve settled into our new jobs on the island.  As I last wrote, I started a new job as a mussel grader in the town of Borden, about twenty minutes from the house.  However my career as a mussel grader only lasted about two hours.  After our first shift, my career path took a slight right-turn into the packing/icing/shipping area.

As mussel grading is probably the most mundane job imaginable, I had no objection to this slight detour.  I’m quite serious.  Trying to be clever, I was going to compare it to other boring jobs, but frankly I couldn’t come up with anything.  Basically, when grading mussels, you stand in front of a conveyor belt as hundreds of the little blue-shelled molluscs pass by – and your objective is to remove any dead or broken ones, and of course, anything that’s not actually a mussel.  That’s it.  All day.  Every day.

Thankfully, the company recognized one of my strengths right away – my strength.  We produce, on average, 20-30 thousand pounds of mussels per day.  Once bagged, the mussels are boxed, iced, packed and shipped daily.  That’s my role.

So what about Vanessa?  Since I was moved from the position I was hired for – mussel grader – I suggested Vanessa send her resume in to fill the position left from my departure.  She was hired over the phone within the week.  Her career as a mussel grader lasted a full day and was a little more eventful.

Although mundane, the mussels whizzing by your face from left to right, hour after hour can be problematic to those who suffer from motion sickness.  Like Vanessa.

After a day of running to the washroom, the supervisor promoted her to one of the bagging machines – a complicated computer-controlled beast from Europe.  I think it intimidates most of the workers there.  Vanessa took to it in no time – so that’s her new role.

So our new-normal isn’t all that different.  After a year of working side-by-side on the house and gardens, we find ourselves literally shoulder-to-shoulder at our “paying” job – she’s bagging, I’m boxing.  Our non-paying job continues to be the house renovations – which are still progressing, but thankfully, the income now affords us to resume the renovations.  The weekend weather looks like it will confine us to inside work so insulation and vapour barrier is on the agenda.  Last week we got the chicken coop insulated – so the girls are ready for winter now, too.

Now, if we can just teach ourselves to actually like mussels….

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Thankful hearts

We’re approaching a year since our move to PEI. In fact, one year ago this weekend we hosted our last Thanksgiving dinner with our family in Ontario. By mid-November we were heading east with a loaded down U-Haul truck and hopeful hearts. Since then, and now in the spirit of the Thanksgiving weekend, I have a new appreciation of the life we now have.

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I’m thankful for the beautiful island on which we now live. I’m thankful for the home we’re making and the fertile soil on which it’s built. I’m thankful for the freedoms we have in Canada – including the freedom to express my faith in the Lord without fear of reprisal. I’m thankful for the family and friends – both near and far – who have shown their unconditional love and support of the crazy adventure we chose. And I’m thankful for all those who have discovered and have been following this little blog highlighting some of our more memorable moments and milestones.

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This week I begin a new chapter in our life on the east coast as I start a new job. With winter approaching we find ourselves in need of employment and a steady income. Our little nest egg left from the sale of our Ontario home has almost been exhausted with the large expenses we’ve incurred this year: new house, new foundation, new roof, new well, new (used) car and countless trips to the building supply center for our ongoing renovations. My job now affords us to pay what little bills we have (insurance, electricity, internet) and leave an amount of disposable income for the ongoing renovations and savings we’d like.

I find the contentment in my heart and the size of my bank account to have no correlation – now more than ever. In spite of what our bank balance may be, I feel richer today than I’ve ever felt. I own my house, property and vehicles – all with zero debt. In fact, I recently told a friend that if I were to win a million dollars, I wouldn’t change a thing. I want to cut my own firewood. I want to grow my own potatoes. I want an old house to restore myself. I don’t miss any of the “luxuries” we had before our move. In fact, I’m happier living with less.

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I know this lifestyle isn’t for everyone – or maybe even the majority of people. But it is for us. And we’re truly, truly thankful for everything we have.

“A grateful heart is a beginning of greatness. It is an expression of humility. It is a foundation for the development of such virtues as prayer, faith, courage, contentment, happiness, love, and well-being.”

Blessings to you and yours this Thanksgiving.

The storm passed. Everyone’s happy.

Well we survived our visit from Arthur – the first Atlantic hurricane of the season – although it was downgraded to a Tropical Storm by the time it hit the island.

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We lost power last night and have been without for about twelve hours now.  (Note: I’m currently writing this blog entry in my notebook to be transferred to the computer once power is restored). 

We’ve only been without power for a few hours now, but it certainly drives home the point of how reliant we are to the grid.  Since we’re so deep into the renovations, and we’re going to rewire the house anyhow, I’ll be hardwiring a few critical circuits to run off a generator if needed – the fridge, well-pump, a few lights and plugs, etc.  Nothing extravagant, just enough “juice” to get us through a lengthy blackout if needed.  With a well, no power means no water.

Not that we had any issue with this storm – there was lots of advance notice of the impending hurricane.  We had filled a couple of water containers we use for camping with water – and the bathtub as well.

So other than the power outage, we came out of things unscathed.  The roof was finished on Friday – one day before the storm hit….

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….and thankfully we didn’t lose a single shingle.

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Not to say the house didn’t rock in the strongest wind gusts – because it certainly did – but there were no significant issues.  I’ll admit it was pretty unnerving how the house shook in the strongest gusts – probably made all the worse because the house is completely gutted on the second floor.  One gust tore off the Tyvek building wrap from the exposed area on the back of the house and it’s now M.I.A.  The way the wind was howling, I suspect someone in Prince County is picking it up from their yard today.

Before the storm came, I closed in the floor of the addition to prevent and wind from gusting through the basement.  We didn’t need the basement filling up with water before the concrete floor gets poured, either.

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So suffice to say we’ve now got our work cut out for us.  Everything we’ve been doing to date has led up to this moment.  The demolition was in anticipation of the new foundation.  The new foundation allowed us to get the roof re-sheathed and shingled, which now allows us to finally get the upstairs renovations underway.

In fact, we had a big lumber order delivery on Friday to start restructuring the attic floor, install the roof vents for the cathedral portion of the ceilings and rebuild the partition walls.  This week, we’ll be getting our clawfoot tub, shower unit and associated hardware.

But it’s not all work, no play either.  We had a surprise visit from a good friend and former co-worker, Skip and his beautiful daughter Brooke.

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Skip and Brooke. Not an accurate representation.

They had an east-coast road trip planned and paid us a totally unexpected visit.  Skip was our lead-carpenter back in my Ontario life so I was tempted to shove a hammer into his hand when he walked in our front door.

Our work days have been lengthening as of late to get as much done as possible before our family arrives in August for vacation.  I’ve been preparing them that they shouldn’t expect the Royal York Hotel here, rather more like the Hav-a-Nap motel.  Either way, it’s going to be great to see family again and show them what we’ve gotten ourselves into.

In anticipation of their visit, we’ve been exploring the island ourselves for ideas to bring them.  Murdoch on the other hand is quite happy to just go to the beach.

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Insanely happy

Oh yeah, and to wrap things up, my birthday came and went.  We just did a small celebration this year….

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Oh, wait.  That was Canada Day in Charlottetown.   For my birthday, we just sat in the dark.

Thanks, Arthur.

 

 

Red soil and red sky

So with the foundation work chugging away, we finally have an opportunity to get our gardens planted.

Whenever we had some spare time over the last couple of weeks, we raked the old grass and straw from the garden area, laid-out the bed locations and tilled the soil.

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Last week we had a load of compost delivered to our place to help enrich the beds.  With time running against us, we didn’t test the soil or composition – we’re just trusting that the fertile soil of PEI doesn’t stop at our property line.

Speaking of fertile PEI soil: I suppose it’s only fitting that even compost in Prince Edward Island would be full of lobster bits.

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Once the compost was worked into the bed, it was time to start planting.  We started with the tomato beds – all from seeds started earlier this spring.

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In all, we’ve planted about twenty-four Roma tomatoes for sauces and canning.  In addition to the paste tomatoes, we also planted six each of four Heirloom-varities: Brandywine, Pruden Purple, Mountain Merit and Golden Cherry.

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With the tomatoes planted, we jumped over to the potato bed.  Not originally planned as part of our garden, the potato bed was a last minute addition.

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We never really thought we’d need to grow potatoes in PEI – we’re living in Canada’s potato capital, afterall.  Heck, we even have lobster in our soil!  So, like everything else, we went all-out and planted four types of potatoes: red potatoes, Yukon Gold, Russet and a purple-fleshed variety.

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Before the day was up, we planted two of our berry beds – raspberry and blackberry – and also got our asparagus bed planted.

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We’ve never grown asparagus before but have dedicated a 25-foot row for it – although it will still be a few years before we’ll actually be able to harvest spears to eat.

Finally, before we headed out for our drive, we finished up one more bed.

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Three types of cabbage, rutabaga, broccoli, broccolini, cauliflower, kale and collards.

All in all, not a bad start on the gardens.  We’ve still got the beans and peas to plant, as well as carrots, beets, sweet potato, corn, summer and winter squash, cucumbers, onions, garlic and peppers.

As of late, our backyard is taking on the appearance of a motocross course.  As exciting as it is having the foundation-work done, I’m really looking forward to getting the mess cleaned up.

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We’re still deciding where to use all of the island stone salvaged from the foundation….

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….and exactly how to get it all in place.  I do know, it’s going to be a beautifully landscaped property once we get to tackle that pile.

But as the sun was going down, we decided to take advantage of the remaining daylight to go for a walk on the beach.  A quick drive from the house and we arrived in Cavendish just in time to watch the sun set.

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Still early in the season, we had the beach to ourselves.  Tide was low and we walked along the shoreline to take it all in.

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I think this was the first time we really stopped to let it all sink in: this is our home.  We’re only minutes form the ocean in any direction from our house.

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With the sun down, we walked back through the sand dunes to the car.

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No matter how crazy the renovations get, we’re exactly where we want to be.  With the house.  With the gardens.   With each other.

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Fast and furious

What a whirlwind week we’ve had.  When we last left you, the foundation repairs had started.  The steel supports were delivered and a few of the damaged sills were replaced.

That was child’s play compared to where we are now.  In fact, things are progressing so quickly, that what you’re currently reading is old news (well, to us anyhow).

Thankfully the weather has been on our side – for a change.  With an exception of one rain-day last week, it’s been non-stop progress.  So with that said, here’s how the last few days went:

After the sills were replaced, the soil was cut down around the house and stones removed from the foundation to make pockets for the big steel beams to be installed.

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Picking up one end with the excavator and slowly guiding it through the pockets in the foundation, the beam is pushed from the back of the house, with only inches to spare….

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….out through the front of the house.

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Needless to say, Elmer has done this once or twice before.  Now for the second beam.

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So that takes care of the main cape.  The kitchen ell has two smaller supports perpendicular to the two mains.  These will be jacked by hand.

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But the two main supports will be raised pneumatically.  With the cribbing and jacks in place, it’s time to start lifting.

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There she goes!

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Front-to-back, the main beams are raised and the side supports are jacked manually to keep pace.

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Murdoch’s such a trooper, too.  He’s happy just to be out with us and the guys from Moveall Structures.  Of course, anytime he gets attention, he’s happy.

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And there it is.  The house is up a couple of feet off the old foundation wall and the next step is to remove the old stone wall and excavate to a depth to accommodate the new full-height basement.

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Unfortunately, Thursday is where the week ended for the crew.  Rain came on Friday and the remaining excavation would have to wait until after the weekend.

But, in spite of the rain, Friday was just what we needed.  Our good friends, Aarno and Helena were passing through the maritimes on their way back to Ontario and paid a visit.  How awesome to see old friends and familiar faces – and to share a glimpse in what we’re doing.  We went for a quick drive along Cavendish and stopped for lunch at the Blue Mussel Cafe in North Rustico.

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Vanessa with Helena and Aarno

It was there we met Steve, the new owner of the restaurant.  He and his wife just moved to PEI last year, looking for a change of pace and had just opened the restaurant for the season only six days earlier.  And to top it off, they were originally from Ajax – practically neighbors to us in Ontario!  If you ever find yourselves in the area, I’d certainly recommend their cafe.

The day off was more than a welcome change.  It was entirely necessary.   During the week of the foundation work, we were digging and preparing the vegetable gardens.  Vanessa was raking and shoveling while I was getting dragged around the yard by the tiller we rented.  Needless to say, we took advantage of the rainy weekend and rested up.

On Monday, the guys were back to complete the excavation.  The goal was to finish in time to get the footings poured.

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I’ll hand it to them: they put in a long day to get it done, and by the end of the day, the milk truck, er, concrete truck was backing in and the footings were poured.

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What an enormous undertaking, but I’m sure well worth the investment.

Like I mentioned before, it’s all happening very fast.  But in the same breath, I can’t wait until the foundation is done and we’re back on the ground.  Vanessa says it’s like living in a bouncy-castle.  Perhaps not quite that bad, but you certainly feel every wind gust and the floors spring under your feet.

I’ll keep the posts coming as quickly as I can, but remember, find Our Old Island Home on Facebook and “like” us for real-time updates.  You’ll have already known that we’ve started forming the foundation walls today.

Until next time: keep your feet on the ground!

 

From river to plate: catching dinner

Well I guess it’s no surprise as to what the content of today’s post will be – at least not to any of you who follow us on Facebook.

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A few weeks ago, Vanessa and I enjoyed a series of six weekly “get to know you” evenings with our pastor and a few new couples at our church. One week we were asked: if money were no object, how would you spend the “perfect” day off? I knew exactly how I’d respond: I’d be sitting by a stream – fishing rod in hand, enjoying a beautiful day in solitude, enjoying the beauty of nature around me. Actually catching fish would be optional bonus.

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With an endless array of freshwater streams rivers and ponds, there is no shortage of fishing opportunities for us in PEI.  Most of the rivers are short, spring-fed streams that originate from cool freshwater springs providing a near-constant flow of 6 to 7 degree water throughout the year.  As a result, these streams support a good trout fishery.  In particular, it’s said that brook trout can be found in nearly every stream on the island.

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In addition to the brook trout, Atlantic salmon can be found migrating on a few of the larger rivers on the island, and rainbow trout (a non-native species) have taken to a number of rivers and are now a self sustaining fishery.

We had previously fished a couple of ponds around our house without any success so we decided to try a river just minutes from our home.  On Sunday, we had scouted an area of the river when we took Murdoch for a run.  It wasn’t long before we saw big shadows just under the surface and a few fish rising.  That’s exactly where we headed on Monday morning.  And like Sunday, the fish were there to greet us.

We tried the go-to presentation for river fishing: drifting worms.  Nothing.  Then I switched to artificial trout eggs with the same success.  Perhaps a nymph fly pattern?  Nope.  And to top it all off, our presence likely spooked the fish – they were now nowhere to be seen.

The one thing about this location was the deep pool just upstream from some fast-flowing rapids.  Any fish heading upstream would take some time to rest in the slower moving water of the deep pool.  That’s what I was telling myself, anyhow.

I figured the fish were there – we just weren’t offering them what they wanted.  So, I tied on a lure I had some success with back in Ontario – a tiny streamer I tied on a 1/32 oz jig-head.  On the first cast, I had a huge trout chase it into the open.   My heart was pounding.  Another cast.  Another follow.  I could hardly believe it.  Another cast.  I saw a flash of white as it swiped after it….and missed.  Fourth cast.  BAM!  Fish on!

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My first PEI trout – a 16″ rainbow trout.  I noticed the yellow tag on it’s dorsal fin.  The University of PEI is undertaking a rainbow trout study to monitor it’s habitat and possible expansion into other watersheds.  Rainbow trout were introduced to the island accidentally when a hatchery malfunction resulted in the mass escape of a steelhead strain of rainbows.  I noted the tag number and released the fish.

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There is a UPEI hotline to call when a tagged fish is captured.  Simply note the tag number, the size if the fish and the location of the capture.  Your report is even eligible for a reward.

Fishing continued for another while, but this was the only fish that little jig would catch today.

Time to regroup.  Clearly the fish didn’t want worms or eggs.  I did get one with a minnow-imitating streamer, so let’s go with that.  I tied on a small floating Rapala plug, tossed it downstream swam it over the deep pool.  This time it only took three casts.

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My second fish – and probably the biggest river-trout I’ve ever caught – a 22″ rainbow.  I didn’t want to keep it.  Vanessa did.  We kept it, but to be honest I wrestled with that decision.  I hate the thought of keeping the big, brute, breeding-stock.

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It was a male – not a female capable of still laying thousands of eggs.  If it were, there was no question – she’d go back.  And it was a rainbow trout – a non-native species, said to be pushing out the native brook trout and Atlantic salmon residents.  So, I agreed.  It would become dinner that night.

Fishing continued again for a while and we didn’t have much more luck with any of the other lures we tried.   It was getting colder and I really wanted Vanessa to catch one before we left so I tied on a spinner with rainbow trout colors.  I figured if the fish got annoyed by a little trout buzzing around, we might get a strike out of anger.

On her very first cast with this spinner, Vanessa had her first island trout: a perfect pan-sized rainbow.

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And that’s where it ended up – in the pan.  No hesitation.  In fact, given the option, I’d rather keep six of these little guys over one of the big ones.  The big ones may be more fun to catch, but the little ones come guilt-free when eaten.

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So that’s how our fishing trip went.  A rousing success, I think.  And being only minutes from the house, a place I’m sure we’ll frequent again and again.

So once home, I cleaned both fish and the little one went right into the fry pan. We split it as a snack while I prepared supper.

Very few of you know that I really enjoy cooking.  I love it actually, so I wanted to be sure the big trout we kept was enjoyed to the fullest – the fish deserved that at least.  It can also be a real challenge when cooking for a non-fish-eater.  I’ll give credit where it’s due, though – Vanessa has eaten more fish since coming to PEI than in the previous twenty years we’ve been together.

I froze one of the two big fillets.  The other was baked with a lemon-dill butter and served with an apricot and almond pilaf.

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So just like the fishing, it too was a success.

‘Weather’ or not – it’s time to start outdoors

It’s been one of those weeks.  You know the ones: you start with great intentions to get lots done, then something happens out of your control, derailing your plans –  and before you know it, you did half of what you planned and some things you didn’t plan.

For example....

For example….

Between my last post and this one, we had some more severe winter-weather: an ice storm, to be exact.  Close to an inch of ice accumulated on everything:  the cars, trees, the house – everything.  Well, the east side of everything anyhow.

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I have to say it was pretty spectacular to look at.  It reminded me of the prehistoric insects that got entombed in amber – only there were no insects.  Or amber.  Well, you get my drift.

Not pictured: insect in amber

Not pictured: insect in amber

Anyhow, regardless of the weather now, we’re under the gun to get several things done before the new foundation is installed.  The rear addition (that we’ve used as a temporary storage area) has to be removed – which means we’ve been moving all of our unpacked boxes and items into the barn or the upper level of the house.

The chimney has to be taken down.  I’m just waiting on a nice, warm, ice-free day to venture onto the roof to get the upper portion removed – the rest can be done from inside the house.  I’ll have to patch-in the opening somewhat – but nothing too fancy right now.

And lastly, the front porch needs to come off.  I’ve already stripped the trim, soffit and fascia from the roof structure and removed the deck railing.  I figure the roof can stay on until we’re ready to start the foundation since it’s providing some protection from the weather as we come and go from the house.

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The weather has taken a turn this week: it’s been quite mild the past few days – and the long term forecast remains the same.  The snow is quickly melting which is good for us in hopes of getting the excavation underway for the foundation – but it’s making for a terrible muddy mess around the house.  Not unexpected – just another source of aggravation.

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The plan is to have the rear addition mostly removed this week.  A pretty ambitious plan I admit, but hey, even if it takes twice that long, we’ll still be ahead of schedule.  And I really want the garbage dumpster gone before the ground softens too much.  At least the weather looks to be on our side for a change.